There is something nostalgic about the excitement I feel—for a moment—when I receive the news that we have a snow day. And I felt it today when the calls, emails, and tweets came through that our schools were closed. Now, as someone who leaves all that should be done the night before to the morning of, I escape my daily blood pressure spike when there is no school. That predictable jolt of cortisol that has me sweating by 7 am is the result of a 45 minute stretch of time that is just a little too intense for someone with a mind as disorganized as mine. (A few years back a tropical storm was finally named Erika, like me, and my mom got such a kick out of the fact that meteorologists were calling it a “very disorganized storm.” Hey, they picked the right name for that one.)
My decision to drink a cup of coffee first thing each morning only exacerbates my inevitable shedding of layers as the caffeine, lunch making, uniform searching, and last minute sharpening of pencils collide into our family’s version of the daily beast. And the beast is me. Occasionally, everything is smooth. No mold on the bread, PE uniforms washed, folded, and ready to be worn, and a box of brand new pre-sharpened pencils sitting on the counter. Add to that the rare morning that the dogs aren’t barking at the trash men or the neighbors and the word that comes to mind is “swimmingly”. And badass. Because I literally feel like Wonder Woman on those days. (And because I really like the word “swimmingly.”)
But the norm around our place in the morning is usually pretty hectic and I bring most of it upon myself (or so says my husband, friends, mother and every other person in my life who doesn’t leave everything to the last second, complain about it, and then keep doing the same thing.) If there were a hidden camera on me in the morning, it would reveal a woman with her butt sticking out of the dryer as she searches for THAT uniform item that the kids have to wear that day. (On the really bad days, it would show that same woman pulling clothes out of the hamper and spraying Febreeze on them.)
Monday through Wednesday, the video feed would make it seem like I’m actually kind of a rockstar on the lunch packing front – I make sandwiches for all three boys and leave them on the counter so they can add the snacks they want to bring. Early in the week there are lots of snack options and the lunches are actually pretty solid (unless you are a nutrition hawk because I’m not one so my lunches don’t measure up when the health-nut moms sneak a peek. It’s not like I put poison in their lunch boxes or anything but some folks think goldfish and oreos belong in the same category as poison, so we don’t let those people look into our lunch boxes.) Midweek the whole lunch train begins to go a bit off the rails. Cold cuts are in low supply, snacks have almost run out, and I have either refused or forgotten to go back to the store. That’s when the “we have NO FOOD in this house” chants begin. And that’s when I respond, “I know. Because you ate it all. You’re buying lunch today.”
The pencils. One of my children has an uncanny ability to arrive home each day with pencils that are broken, lost, or too dull for writing. So we spend the final moments when he should be brushing his teeth—but is instead dunking on the basketball hoop on the bathroom door— arguing about pencils. I am making the case that he has “pencil issues” and he is making the case that if I’d just buy mechanical pencils, we wouldn’t have this problem. His assertion has been proven false many times but that is the line of argument he has chosen to pursue. Either way, I am the only one with the magic touch when it comes to our very old and temperamental electric pencil sharpener so alas, that somehow daily job falls to me.
So yes, I will sing the hallelujah chorus, loudly, when my brain first registers the news of a snow day because I don’t have to do ANYTHING to get the kids out the door. I can get up and start working or stay in bed. They can stay in bed. I can feed them at my leisure or let them go digging for some breakfast appropriate provisions. I can get to work on my laptop right away. It all seems so perfect. Blissful even.
And then reality hits. And I change my mind and decide I hate snow days. The constant din of basketballs bouncing, dunking, and crashing into things. The wrestling. The arguing over the Xbox and whose turn is it to play Fortnight—if you aren’t familiar with Fortnight, it is the biggest thing to hit boy-world in a long time and its addictive properties are causing millions of parents across America to set new limits, yell a lot, and wear noise cancelling headphones to drown out the “it’s my turn” medley that has tempted us to rip the machine out of the wall. And when I threaten to do that, my boys actually believe me because I did kick a hole in the door once. Yup, my foot went right through the door. And that was only over a missing baseball hat just minutes before practice on a day that I was in a particularly grouchy mood.
But then I order my three little men outside to shovel and I kind of like the snow day again. I usually send them to the neighbors’ house too because their days of strapping young children to shovel are over and it’s an easy, but important, way for my kids to attempt to ‘love thy neighbor.’ Of course, all that shoveling makes them hungry and now I have to think about meals since I can’t just tell them to eat the lunches we didn’t pack the night before. Dammit!
So the truth is, I’m a little torn on this whole snow day thing. Like everything else in parent world, it has its upsides and its downsides. But one thing is for sure: I will always feel that initial jolt of euphoria, however misguided, when I find out in the morning that we have a snow day. I will bask in the morning laziness it affords me, curse the fighting and noise it creates, and proudly proclaim that I gave birth to three boys and they are all finally old enough to shovel snow.
Happy Snow Day y’all. I’m off to the kitchen to make grilled cheeses!